The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Rape, Torture, Fire, Animals, Religion.  Am I Missing Anything?

I had done everything I could to avoid watching today’s movie.  It’s the first part in what will inevitably be a trilogy of movies based on a Swedish trilogy of movies that was itself based on a trilogy of Swedish novels.  The reason I never saw the original movies is because I generally hate reading movies.  You make me pay attention with quality movie, not because I have to pay attention to read what’s going on.  I never read the books because they were books, and I don’t do that.  And when they released the American version of the film, I still never wanted to watch it.  Firstly, everyone is going to say that the American version is not as good as the Swedish version.  And others may even say that the Swedish version was not as good as the books.  On top of that, all I knew about this movie was that someone gets raped in it a couple of times.  That is literally everything I knew about it, so much so that I actually referred to this as “That Rape movie”, because that was shorter than the actual title, and why would I want to watch a movie about rape when it’s not “socially acceptable” for me to touch myself while watching … except in Japan.  My roommate even asked me if I wanted to watch this with him, but I turned it down.  Finally, I saw it in a RedBox and decided to just do it already.  Someone would request it eventually anyways.  So let’s dive into my review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (aka “The Rape movie”), based on a novel by Stieg Larsson, written for the screen by Steven Zaillian, directed by David Fincher, and starring Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Joely Richardson, Steven Berkoff, Yorick van Wageningen, Geraldine James, Donald Sumpter, Robin Wright, and Goran Visnijc.

Journalist and co-owner of a Swedish magazine called “Millennium”, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), has gotten himself on the wrong side of a libel case brought against him by a corrupt businessman named Hans-Erik Wennerstrom.  Even though his credibility has been damaged, he has been requested for an investigation by an entrepreneur named Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), but only after an extensive background check by computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara).  Vanger asks Mikael to investigate the disappearance of his grandniece, Harriet, who disappeared 40 years ago.  Even though he suspects that she’s dead, he wants to know what happened.  As Mikael is dealing with that situation, Lisbeth has a bit of a situation of her own.  She is under state appointed legal guardianship because of some troubles in her past and her new lawyer, Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), is being a total dick … and putting his in her mouth.  He makes her work for her money right up until she films him raping her and regains control of her life by blackmailing him.  Mikael investigates Harriet’s disappearance by himself at first, but eventually requires the services of another investigator, and so his path crosses with Lisbeth’s.

I was totally disappointed.  This movie was not about rape at all!  Why is that the only thing I had heard about this movie?  It’s actually a mystery and suspense movie with two quasi-rapes and a lot of rape talk.  I guess I’ll have to start referring to this movie by it’s actual title now.  All that aside, this was a pretty good movie.  Is the Swedish one better?  I don’t know, but that’s the rumor.  But I’m not talking about that, am I?  The story of this movie was pretty good, but I felt like it got off to a slow start.  Technically speaking, you could have easily dropped out all of the Lisbeth stuff before she meets Mikael.  He’s really the main character of this movie, and all of her stuff before that point didn’t really serve the story at all, which means this movie could’ve been completely rape free and been just as potent.  Looking around on Wikipedia, it turns out that Larsson included that stuff because he witnessed a gang rape when he was 15 and it’s haunted him ever since.  I’m sure women would be into it because Lisbeth has a pretty hardcore retaliation for her rape and that’s very empowering for women.  Not having a vagina myself, I just realized that it was unnecessary to the story.  If Lisbeth just walked in and got hired by Mikael, nothing would have changed.  The mystery that they solve together was pretty great, and I really had no clue what the outcome would be until the very moment they revealed it in the movie.  I also had a bit of trouble following some of the reveals in the end because I lost track of the names of all the characters.  I probably could’ve been paying better attention, but there were also so many suspects that, when they were coming up with the potential killer’s name, I was trying to figure out which one of the people they were talking about.  But it’s still a very good mystery, and I appreciated it for that.  After the mystery is taken care of and the story is wrapped up, I felt like the story kept going to no great effect, but it wasn’t that much time wasted.  The look of the movie bothered me a bit, but mainly just because everything was just a shade above black and white for almost the first half of the movie, and that didn’t make it very visually interesting to me.  Except for the opening titles.  They were pretty cool and definitely visually interesting.  There was also a car chase and crash that was pretty spectacular in the movie.  I’m not that big of a fan of Trent Reznor.  Never was a Nine Inch Nails fan and most of his “music” in this movie just sounded like there was constantly a plane flying overhead, but it did set the mood, so I guess it did what it was aiming at.

I can’t think of any real criticisms about the performances in this movie, but I do have a couple of fake criticisms.  This was one of the first times I had seen Daniel Craig play someone that wasn’t James Bond, and it was a much more grounded and real performance.  I felt bad for him for the bulk of the movie because almost anyone that interacted with him opened with a verbal kick to the nuts by bringing up his legal troubles.  I did laugh when Lisbeth was stitching up a cut on his head because the cut seemed so minor.  As a guy, there’s not a whole lot I can say about Rooney Mara’s character that’s non-sexual.  Finding her attractive in this movie was difficult for me.  I usually like the goth look, but her hair and almost invisible eyebrows were a little off-putting to me.  Her body was not, though, and she was not shy about letting that thing breathe.  I did think the sex between her and Daniel Craig just came out of nowhere and could’ve used a little explanation, but I’m not complaining because I enjoy her boobs.  Most of the time she just played it emotionally dead, but performed her part of the rape disturbingly realistically, and that made her retaliation that much more satisfying.

I liked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo much more than I thought I would, but it was not without it’s problems.  The story doesn’t pick up for me me until Lisbeth and Mikael start working together because I felt like Lisbeth’s part of the movie before that was unnecessary.  It wasn’t that visually interesting to me, but the story kept me paying attention for the second half of the movie, and I never saw the end coming.  I can recommend this movie for a watch but, from what I’ve heard, that’s just because I haven’t seen the Swedish ones.  I still liked this movie though.  And so, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo gets “You do something for me, I do something for you” out of “May I kill him?”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Princess Bride (1987)


This movie came as another request from Robert. Not the “friend” that made me watch Thankskilling. This one came from the me Robert. I had managed to catch about 20 minutes of the movie while waiting to be passed over for another promotion (long story for elsewhere) and decided that I should watch it again. And then I responded “As I wish”. Thankfully, this movie was already in my collection and it was not a difficult wish to grant. So I present to you my review of The Princess Bride, starring Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Mandy Patinkin, and Andre the Giant, with notable guest appearances by Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Peter Falk, and Fred Savage.

Buttercup (Robin Wright) is a dirty bitch to her stable boy Westley (Cary Elwes). She delights in bossing him around and he responds only with “as you wish”. These words apparently end up meaning “I love you” and she starts to feel the same. In order to get married, Westley sails off to earn his fortune for their wedding. Unfortunately, Westley’s ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who is notorious for not being a fan of hostages. Buttercup receives word of his death and becomes despondent. Five years later, Buttercup is reluctantly engaged to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). While out riding her horse, Buttercup is kidnapped by Sicilian criminal genius Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a Spanish swordsman Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and a gigantic wrestler from Greenland Fezzik (the gigantic wrestler from France, Andre Roussimoff aka the Giant). While sailing away, they find that they are being followed. They reach the Cliffs of Insanity and Vizzini orders Inigo to kill the masked man in black following them. The Dread Pirate Roberts bests Inigo in fencing (as people named Robert are known to do), but leaves Inigo alive, knocking him out instead. Vizzini then orders Fezzik to kill Roberts, but Roberts manages to choke out the giant (as people named Robert do) and leaves Fezzik unconcious. Vizzini then accepts a battle of wits with Roberts, but Roberts outsmarts him (again, Robert’s do these things!). Vizzini is all the way dead though. After needlessly pestering Buttercup for a bit, Roberts reveals that he is Westley, who was not killed, but befriended by the Dread Pirate Roberts and was handed the mantle of the Dread Pirate Roberts upon the old Roberts’ retirement. Soon after, Humperdinck catches them, but Buttercup agrees to marry Humperdinck if he promises not to kill Westley. The deal is struck and Humperdinck and Buttercup ride off together, and the six-fingered Count Rugen (Christopher Guest) takes Westley to safety … and by that I mean his death. WHAT WILL HAPPEN?! WILL TRUE LOVE TRIUMPH?! Well sure, but it’s fun to watch.

This is a pretty damn good movie, says I. And what’s best about it is that I feel it works for almost everybody. It’s got romance for the ladies and sword fighting and action for the mens. And the comedy will work for both. The entire movie is basically a rom-com based around Buttercup and Westley with all that icky girly kissy-faced stuff that them girls are into. But then when you involve Inigo, you get a lot of cool sword fighting and a great revenge story as Inigo searches for Count Rugen to avenge the murder of his father. I feel that everybody knows the famous line from this movie “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” And if you don’t remember this line, you will once you’ve watched the movie. It’s used about 8 times, but never in a way that makes you say “STOP SAYING THAT”, unless you’re Rugen. Wallace Shawn and Cary Elwes’ discussion over the poison goblet is solid good-time funnies. The only real problem I had with this (which I may not have if I read the book of the same name) was with the bookending with the Fred Savage and Peter Falk. The movie’s premise was that it was a story a grandfather (Falk) was reading to his grandson (Savage). Falk put on a good show and all, but these parts seemed like an unnecessary intrusion on a good story. But that’s not a major gripe. Another problem is the last line of the book. It’s something like “Since the invention of the kiss, there have been 5 kisses that are the best, and this one was better than those”. That just seems like lazy writing right there. It’s like “I can’t really think of a description that perfectly captures how amazing and romantic I want this kiss to be. …I guess I’ll just say that.”

The production of this movie is mostly top of the line (at least for what I’d expect from ’87, but they still hold up today). The backdrops for the scenes are all pretty epic in scope and fit the scene perfectly, most notably the Cliffs of Insanity. The clothing and make-up effects are all great and fit the scene perfectly. This will sound gay, but I noticed Robin Wright’s outfits as being particularly good. One thing that I felt was problematic to this movie probably wouldn’t have been a problem if you were reading it. That problem is that nobody was unaware that the Dread Pirate Roberts was Westley. Put a Robin mask on him and hide his hair, give him a Hitler ‘stache, and no one will be the wiser. Also, the ROUSes (or the Rodents Of Unusual Size) were less than convincing. But I suppose it was the best they could muster at the time, so I let it slide. They’re a minor part of the movie anyway. Also, I just realized on this viewing of the movie that I try to figure out exactly how Count Rugen’s pain machine works every single time I’ve watched this movie. Maybe I desire to be an evil genius and torture people with a water-based complicated piece of machinery.

I can’t really think of a single performance in this movie I didn’t like. Inigo was the man, as far as I was concerned, but Westley did a good amount of awesome himself. I especially liked Cary Elwes’ performance when his body was paralyzed. Wallace Shawn is another stand out performance here. He was only briefly in the movie, but was entertaining the entire time. The best percentage of comedy, however, goes to Billy Crystal as Miracle Max and Carol Kane as his wife. I loved their scenes. Christopher Guest as Count Rugen was a different step from the other performances I’ve enjoyed him in, but he performed it very well. Andre the Giant would have to be the surprise performance here because he was very good, though technically he may have been playing himself, though he did hide the fact that he could barely walk throughout the movie. I don’t know the guy’s name, but the guy that played the priest and did the whole “Mawwiage” thing was priceless.

So that’s that. This could be my favorite rom-com ever. I say that because it’s funny enough and contains enough action that guys aren’t slitting their wrists while their girlfriends are making them watch it. I give this movie “Her appeal is undeniable” out of “I wonder if he is using the same wind we are using”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.